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Diary of work experience with Museum Services June 2018

19/06/201812:30 pmLeave a Comment

This week I was helping out the East Lothian Council Museum Service for my work experience. I did many different things at several different museums, and I am going to tell you what I did on each day.

Monday was the first day of my work experience, and at the start I was nervous about pretty much everything – where was I to go? What time was I to be there? What if I got those things wrong and embarrassed myself on my first day? Fortunately, those fears were allayed when I reached Museum Headquarters that morning and was told I was supposed to be there. I met my “supervisor” (just joking) Claire Pannell who told me my schedule for the day. Firstly, I was to help prepare for a tour that was coming to see the Museum Store (where all of the objects that are not being displayed in a museum are kept). I helped with setting out chairs, getting water for those coming, and helping to get biscuits to eat. Once we had done that, Claire drove me down to the John Gray Centre to see one of the paintings there. “The Hoeing of the Fields” be taken down and be put back up again later in the day. We then went back to HQ to meet those who were arriving for the tour. As Claire explained to the group what she did and what the threats were to the objects in the store were, I listened while reading about how to become a volunteer. Unfortunately, I am too young but it’s a good idea for the future. Once Claire was finished, we were off.
As we walked into the store, I couldn’t help noticing how much colder it was in there than the rest of the building. Despite the store still being about 16°C it felt icy and wondered how long we were going to be in there. My feeling of coldness was replaced by one of wonder as I saw all of the different objects in there, my favourite being the silver ring with a sapphire inlaid in it. Eventually however, it was time for the tour to end. As the tourists (in a certain sense) left, we packed up and had lunch. After lunch, we went back down to the John Gray Centre and I watched as they rehung the picture. After that, we went back to HQ, I collected my stuff and went home.

On Tuesday morning, Katherine took me up to Prestongrange Museum so that I could see what happens there. I sat in on a Bookbug session, and was amazed to see the number of both adults and children there. As they sang, played and read, I couldn’t help feeling a bit astonished at the general good behaviour shown by the children. As I tided up, I was asked if I wanted to go on a tour of the museum. Obviously I did, so we went after lunch. As we walked, the tour guide, Margaret, explained about the history of the museum and showed me the beam engine. It was huge, and I was astonished as to how big it was, as even a spanner needed to make it work was about the height of me! After the tour, I got on the bus and went home.

Wednesday was spent in the John Gray Centre. After exploring the museum and the photo exhibition, I was asked to create a question tour of a sort, using objects in the museum that were from Haddington for the Haddington 700 event. As I did that, I found it hard to keep a balance between making the object to find, and making the questions about it hard enough to be interesting yet easy enough so that children could find and then answer them. Time flew by and before I knew it, it was lunch time. After lunch, Katherine looked over the questions that I had written and said they were fine. I then started to look for cameras (specifically Victorian and Edwardian ones) on the John Gray website. Once I had found a few, it was 15:00 and time to go home.

On Thursday, I caught the bus up to Dunbar. Katherine let me in to the Town House Museum and I saw the exhibitions that are on there. At 10:00, I went across the street to John Muir’s Birthplace to help with a P5 class from Gullane that were coming. When they arrived, I thought that they would be a noisy, disruptive class from how they were acting on the say in. But that was not true; they were generally polite, well-mannered and interested in John Muir. They did have basic knowledge gaps (like not knowing that New York was in in the USA), but that is to be expected with young children. When they left it was lunchtime and I enjoyed a nice walk by the sea. After lunch, I went back over to Dunbar Town House and met Fiona, who explained the exhibits to me so that I actually understood the art ones; (they’re worth a visit, you should go.) And I saw a video about the old outdoor swimming pool that was demolished in the 1980’s. Afterwards, I helped to start writing some questions for a new exhibition that is coming soon. Once that was done, I caught the bus home.

Friday was the final day of my work experience, and I must confess that I feel a great deal of sadness that it can’t last longer. I wrote this blog today, whilst under the affliction of a cold, so I’m sorry if it’s a bit of a mess. I very much enjoyed my work experience week, and am now going to have to get ready to start S4. I learnt a lot about how museums operate, and about them and their contents history.  I hope to maybe volunteer one day in the future, when I’m old enough and not busy with exams, so hopefully I’ll see you again then.

Written by Katherine Weldon

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